Abridged from her book, “A Concise History of Charity and Jackson Township
The year 1879 is cited as the first year for the Hog-Eye Picnic. However, it is noted a local merchant, G.W. Herd, might have sponsored it as the Herd Picnic before that date. He is credited as. Naming it the Hog-Eye Picnic. Held the last Saturday of every July from 1879 until 1964, the picnic was eagerly anticipated by youngsters. Many picked blackberries and sold them to have money for the picnic. In the early days a nickel would buy an ice cream. Cone, a drink or a carnival ride.
Families would make a day of it. Leaving early in the morning with the evening meal packed in a basket and the kids loaded on farm wagons cushioned with straw and covered with a. Quilt. Among those kids loaded in wagons for the trip to Hog-Eye was Herb Mallard. Mallard was born in Thorpe, a community south of Charity. The second of six children of Earl and Chloe Mallard, he said they went to the picnic “just about all the time.” Folks in town just walked to the picnic ground near the school at first and later at the site on the south side of today’s Route M.
In the early days they had “Hoochie-coochie” shows. The men would get chewed out for going to see them. They didn’t have those in later years. The Hog-Eye picnic was world apart from the day-to-day lives of Dallas County farm boys and girls. Mallard recalls carnival stands where they would “throw balls and try to knock little dolls down, but we never could.” The Freeman family always cooked fish and hamburgers, he said , and “another big deal” was free watermelons for the kids on Saturday afternoon. “One thing my sister really loved was the swings. A horse pulled chairs on swings around and around a pole,” he said.
One rainy summer, Mallard said he had earned 35 cents pulling crabgrass from a neighbor’s garden. “I thought I was rich.” An ice cream cone with four dips was just 10 cents. That and hamburgers is what I spent my money on,” he said.
Maxine (Graves) Nimmo, a lifelong resident of the Charity area until moving to Buffalo, also has many memories of the Hog-Eye Picnic.
“We never missed the Hog_Eye Picnic or the 4th of July in Marshfield,” she said. “They always had music and a dance floor,” she recalled, “and the Ladies Auxiliary from the Christian Church served food.”
Nimmo also remembers the carnival and the Ferris wheel.”They didn’t have a lot of rides. They had swings and a Ferris wheel. Everybody had to ride the Ferris wheel.”
Other old newspaper accounts of the picnic - including Alma Herd White, who attended the first in 1879 and the last in 1964 - mentioned gypsy fortune tellers, political orators, foot races, $5 airplane rides in 1921 and 1922, and as many as 80 people camped out on George Mallard’s property.
Alice (Mallard) McDaniel, who lived in Charity from the time she was toddler in about 1918, wrote of the Hog-Eye picnic in memoirs collected by (Tess) Kurtz.
“It was the highlight of the summer, and I never missed one,” she wrote. A committee determined who would be allowed to set up stands at the picnic and what to charge them. If there was any money left over after paying expenses, it was given to the local landowner who provided the land. Local merchants usually had the various food stands. On Sundays after the picnic, she and other youngsters would go to the grounds and drake thought the leaves, looking for lost money. “We usually found some,” she wrote, “until people began coming in cars.”
All things come to an end, as well as the good times. The last Hog-Eye Picnic was held in 1989.